… plus the Ayurvedic solution
One of my most popular TikTok videos of 2021 was titled “How to Poop Every Day.” The response was overwhelming, with so many people commenting and sharing their struggles with constipation. As America’s Gut Doctor, I knew that constipation was a big problem that was continuing to grow, but it wasn’t until that video that I realized how many people were struggling in silence with chronic constipation — many of whom didn’t even realize it!
That’s why this week, we’re diving into this common gut health issue, what you can do, and my favorite tips for beating constipation for good.
What is constipation, and how do I know if I have it?
Let’s get real. If we’re talking about your gut, we’ve got to talk about sitting on the toilet. Sometimes my patients are embarrassed to talk about their bowel movements, but your poop can actually give you some very helpful signals about your overall health, so it’s important to pay attention to how often you’re going, and any changes to your bowel movements. Constipation occurs when your digestion is essentially too slow. This causes your stools to dry up and become hard, making them difficult to pass.
Let me say it loud for people in the back — constipation is extremely common, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, this condition affects about 16 out of 100 people in the United States. Many of you have probably experienced occasional constipation, either while traveling, after you change your eating habits, or when you’re stressed. Occasional constipation happens, and it’s nothing to be too worried about. But chronic (or long-lasting) constipation is a sign that something’s awry and should be addressed.
So, how do you know if you have chronic constipation? It’s not always as obvious as you might think. In fact, you may still have chronic constipation EVEN IF you go every day. Many of my patients come to me thinking their digestion is normal, only for me to diagnose them with constipation. So without further adieu, here are 7 signs you’re not pooping enough.
7 Warning Signs You’re Not Pooping Enough
1. You’re not pooping every day
2. You’re straining
3. Pooping takes a LONG time
4. Your stool is hard
5. Your pants don’t fit
6. Your bowel movements don’t feel complete
7. Your stool is pellet-like
A Happy Gut Approach to Constipation
For those looking for quick relief from occasional constipation I often suggest:
This mineral can help draw water into the intestines and relieve constipation fast. This increase in water not only softens the feces, but actually increases the volume, which promotes intestinal motility. In fact, a study of 64 elderly patients who were already using laxatives prior to the study showed that magnesium hydroxide caused more frequent bowel movements as well as more normal stool consistency than bulk-forming laxatives.
Cons: can give you diarrhea; sometimes accidents do happen.
he herb senna, which is the active ingredient in “Smooth Move” tea, is an extremely effective constipation remedy and works by stimulating the muscles in your gut to produce a bowel movement. In one study, 69 percent of participants given 1 gram of senna experienced an improvement in constipation.
Cons: addictive, can damage the colon, leading to dependency on laxative alone for bowel movements.
5 Tips for Relieving Chronic Constipation
Get moving: One of the best ways to “get things moving” is to literally get moving. Studies have shown that prolonged physical inactivity is a major risk factor for constipation. I recommend starting with yoga (check out the poses in my book, Happy Gut®) or a quick jog to ease into the physical activity. A morning run may be all you need to hit the toilet before work.
Correct underlying SIBO: SIBO stands for small intestinal bowel overgrowth, and it is an often overlooked cause of chronic constipation. SIBO occurs when there is an overpopulation of microbes in the small intestines, which can cause your gut to ferment the nutrients in your food before they can fully digested and absorbed, leading to gas and constipation. Many people think they have IBS, when what they really have is SIBO, which is one of the underlying causes of IBS. In this case, a low-FODMAP diet can help, but most importantly, working with a naturopath or functional medicine doctor to design a personalized treatment plan is the best approach. If you would like a private consultation with me, click here.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: If supplements like magnesium are able to draw more water into the intestines to relieve constipation, it makes sense that simply drinking more water would help keep stools hydrated and soft. Well, if you thought that you were correct! When you don’t get enough water, it can lead to sluggish digestion. Studies show the lower your water intake is, the more likely you are to struggle with constipation.
Many of my patients, some of whom have struggled with chronic constipation for years, have had a ton of success with an Ayurvedic approach to resolving constipation. In fact, I saw so much success with these Ayurvedic herbs that I created my own supplement for constipation, called RELAX. This bowel regulating supplement contains powerful ingredients and is now one of the most popular supplements that I carry in my office in New York City. And that’s because it really works! RELAX features ingredients like magnesium hydroxide to draw water into the intestines as well as the Ayurvedic herbs amalaki,haritaki, and bibhitaki which all work to balance the doshas and support regular bowel function.
Here’s what one of my patient’s had to say about it: